This study provides baseline data of native and non-native fish populations in Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge (NWR), Nye County, Nevada, that can serve as a gauge in native fish enhancement efforts. In support of Carson Slough restoration, comprehensive surveys of Ash Meadows NWR fishes were conducted seasonally from fall 2007 through summer 2008. A total of 853 sampling stations were created using Geographic Information Systems and National Agricultural Imagery Program. In four seasons of sampling, Amargosa pupfish (genus Cyprinodon) was captured at 388 of 659 stations. The number of captured Amargosa pupfish ranged from 5,815 (winter 2008) to 8,346 (summer 2008). The greatest success in capturing Amargosa pupfish was in warm water spring-pools with temperature greater than 25 degrees C, headwaters of warm water spring systems, and shallow (depths less than 10 centimeters) grassy marshes. In four seasons of sampling, Ash Meadows speckled dace (Rhinichthys osculus nevadesis) was captured at 96 of 659 stations. The number of captured Ash Meadows speckled dace ranged from 1,009 (summer 2008) to 1,552 (winter 2008). The greatest success in capturing Ash Meadows speckled dace was in cool water spring-pools with temperature less than 20 degrees C and in the high flowing water outflows. Among 659 sampling stations within the range of Amargosa pupfish, red swamp crayfish (Procambarus clarkii) was collected at 458 stations, western mosquitofish (Gambusia affinis) at 374 stations, and sailfin molly (Poecilia latipinna) at 128 stations. School Springs was restored during the course of this study. Prior to restoration of School Springs, maximum Warm Springs Amargosa pupfish (Cyprinodon nevadensis pectoralis) captured from the six springs of the Warm Springs Complex was 765 (fall 2007). In four seasons of sampling, Warm Springs Amargosa pupfish were captured at 85 of 177 stations. The greatest success in capturing Warm Springs Amargosa pupfish when co-occurring with red swamp crayfish and western mosquitofish was in water with temperature greater than 26 degrees C near the springhead, and in shallow (depths less than 10 centimeters) grassy marshes. Among 177 sampling stations within the range of Warm Springs Amargosa pupfish, red swamp crayfish were collected at 96 stations and western mosquitofish were collected at 49 stations. Removal of convict cichlid (Amatitlania nigrofasciata) from Fairbanks Spring was followed by a substantial increase in Ash Meadows Amargosa pupfish (Cyprinodon nevadensis mionectes) captures from 910 pre-removal to 3,056 post-removal. Red swamp crayfish was continually removed from Bradford 1 Spring, which seemed to cause an increase in the speckled dace population. Restoration of Kings Pool and Jackrabbit Springs promoted the success of native fishes with the greatest densities in restored reaches. Ongoing restoration of Carson Slough and its tributaries, as well as control and elimination of invasive species, is expected to increase abundance and distribution of Ash Meadows' native fish populations. Further analysis of data from this study will help determine the habitat characteristic(s) that promote native species and curtail non-native species.
Additional Publication Details
USGS Numbered Series
Relative abundance and distribution of fishes and crayfish at Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, Nye County, Nevada, 2007-08